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Posted: May 29, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Another car title loan approved on Salem Road

Another car title loan business is coming to the Salem Road corridor.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 last week to give a conditional use permit for a Title Match USA location in the Publix shopping center at the intersection of Brown Bridge and Salem roads.

Chairman Keith Ellis cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the application at least Tuesday’s board meeting along with commissioners Lanier Sims and Levie Maddox, while commissioners John Douglas and J.C. Henderson opposed giving the business a permit; Commissioner Nancy Schulz was absent.

The title loan location falls within the Salem Overlay, a set of special zoning and development regulations placed on the Salem Road corridor and surrounding areas to promote high-quality and more town-center oriented development.
The location, 13015 Brown Bridge Road, Suite 300, is in Tier 3 of the overlay, which is designed to have the heaviest commercial use but also develop into a mixed-use area with ease of walkability.

The goal of the overlay, and other similar ones in the county, is to try to create areas that attract higher-quality residential and commercial development.

While several residents have expressed disappointment about the fact that businesses like title loan companies are still being allowed in, governments have to be careful about overly restricting business uses because doing so can open them up to discriminatory lawsuits.

The title loan business met all the requirements for a conditional use permit, including agreeing to not store any cars it may repossess on site and limiting its hours to 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday.
Because the business is locating in an existing commercial building that won’t undergo any exterior changes, the building does not have to meet any of the updated Salem Overlay building standards.

Andre’ Merkeson, who brought the request before the board, said he lives in Newton County and wanted to provide a short-term financial solution to people on the west side of Newton County who need a short-term loan.

Resident Thomas Buckner spoke in opposition to the request saying the county has plenty of title loan businesses already in the area and noted there are several in Covington as well.

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